Whether you’re tying the knot next month or you’ve already been married for a few years, there’s one universal truth all couples must face — human beings eat. A lot.
Whether there’s one designated cook in the relationship or it’s 50/50, figuring out what’s for dinner can quickly become one of the most contentious topics.
But it doesn’t have to be. Cooking (and eating) can be fun, relaxing, and even sexy. For couples who grew up in food-insecure homes, cooking can also become a second love language. You’ll need a little discipline; the road to Taco Bell is paved with crumpled grocery lists and forgotten Pinterest meal plans. Once you set your mind to it, though, you just need these five tips on how to cook for two.
Watch Cooking Shows Together
We’re all visual creatures when it comes to food, and no one understands that better than the Food Network. So when you’re at a complete standstill and have no idea what sounds good, let Ina Garten or Guy Fieri show you the way. This also allows you to gauge when your spouse is interested in a meal. If both of you are mesmerized, add it to the list.
If both of you are mesmerized by a recipe, add it to the list.
Shows like Milk Street (available on Amazon Prime) also showcase technique and general advice rather than just standalone recipes. This can help you learn to problem-solve when you find yourself in a cooking mistake.
Get Creative with Side Dishes
If you’re an adventurous eater who, like me, wound up with a picky eater, it can feel frustrating to choose just one thing you both agree on. When that happens, go for a meal that includes appetizers and side dishes.
If you have different tastes, go for a meal that includes appetizers and side dishes.
Not only does this automatically elevate the meal, but it also gives you a chance to have a portion of it that’s geared toward your taste, while another might be geared toward his. There’s no shame in roast chicken with a side of French fries and caviar, or a hodge-podge of several different recipes.
Have a Meal Prep Ritual
This doesn’t have to be anything fancy. For us, we listen to podcasts or true crime audiobooks as we cook. This takes away some of the drudgery (endlessly peeling potatoes), and it also has a way of getting your mind into “the zone.” Other couples I know turn off all background noise and simply talk to one another. Others might turn up the music and dance around while they stir. Whatever it is, make sure you love it — you’re gonna be doing it a lot!
Jazz It Up with Challenging Meals
Stir fry is great and all, but when you’ve gone week after week with the same few recipes, it’s time to throw something new into the mix. Old-school chef Julia Child was the queen of meals that took two or three days to marinate, steep, or slow cook. Classic foods that require a few magician’s tricks, tough techniques, or many hours can make a meal way more satisfying.
Classic foods that require time or tough techniques can make a meal way more satisfying.
These recipes can also serve to challenge your communication with your partner/co-chef, and that’s going to benefit all areas of your marriage. I once woke up at 4am with my husband to cook, cut, and serve eight enormous briskets for a friend’s wedding — if we can do that successfully, we can probably raise a couple of tiny humans.
Always Have Simple Recipes as a Back-Up
When those challenging meals go sideways, or when you both get home from work late, it’s always good to have a few tried-and-true recipes on hand that you both love and will take less than 30 minutes. Go for recipes that use pantry and freezer staples that you’ll always have stocked (bonus points if they don’t use up too many dishes either!).
Go for recipes that use pantry and freezer staples that you’ll always have stocked.
Good examples of fast recipes would include curry, stir fry, pasta, salad, and tacos, among other throw-together kinds of foods. The internet is filled with blogs that cater to busy families trying to eat healthy, yummy food, so hit that Google search button and let yourself get lost in all the tasty possibilities.
Overall, as much as some might wish that they could DoorDash breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the fact is that most of our meals are going to come from ourselves. Instead of hating on it, let’s embrace it! With some diligence and good old-fashioned fun, the kitchen might even become you and your husband’s favorite room in the house.